Weekly Shop. Short Story.

Brendan looked at his list, he was almost done. He always hated shopping but the supermarket was empty enough today. Normally the place was packed and he found himself having to weave in and out of peoples way. He much preferred to do his shopping when the place was quiet, only another week to go before he was back on night shift and could do his usual early morning shop when he was done work. That was always better, he practically had the place to himself then.

Brendan picked up a can of soup and put it into his cart, smiling to himself as he did so, it was the last thing on his list and he was finally done. He turned the cart around and started heading towards the checkout. Behind him something clanged to the ground, he looked back and saw a can lying in the centre of the aisle. He must have knocked it over when he was getting the soup. He went back and bent to pick it up. As he did so something hit him in the back of the head. Brendan felt a sharp pain before darkness surrounded him.

Brendan opened his eyes, groaning. His head was thudding and he was very cold. He was lying on the floor of the grocery store. Another can must have hit him in the head. He sat up slowly, wincing as his head gave another throb and his stomach clenched. Gingerly he felt around the back of his head, there was a large lump, he couldn’t feel any dried blood on his hair and a brief inspection of his fingers showed they were clean. At least he wasn’t cut. He stood up and leaned on his cart for a moment, breathing slowly. He mustn’t have been out too long, there was no one around and his cart hadn’t moved. He saw the can sitting on the ground, he started to bend over to pick it up, but his stomach lurched again, so instead Brendan kicked it off to the side. The can could go fuck itself. He rubbed at his head again, it was starting to feel a bit better. As he stood there he wondered if he should talk to a manager, it would probably be a good idea to go to the hospital to get it checked out, make sure he had no problems, though he didn’t exactly want to waste his day there. No doubt the store would pay for any bills too. He looked around again, the aisle was empty still. Of course to find a manager he’d have to track down someone who actually worked here. He sighed, might as well get it over with. He took a step, then another, already he was starting to feel a bit better. By the time he left the aisle his head had stopped aching and he felt fine. Maybe he wouldn’t need to speak to anyone after all. He mulled it over while he scanned the aisles, deciding it would be a good idea to talk to someone about it, just in case.

Brendan stopped in the fruit aisle, no sign of any workers yet. This was getting a bit ridiculous. Surely someone must be monitoring the cameras at least, he had seen some security guys around the place before. He would definitely be complaining to corporate now. What if he had been seriously injured? How long would he have lain there before someone found him? He turned his cart down the aisle and started walking towards the tills. There would have to be someone there.

There was no one at the tills, each one was empty. He looked towards the store entrance, normally there was a security guard just inside, monitoring cameras, but the station was empty. Brendan approached it slowly, wondering what he should do, he needed to talk to someone about this, it was unacceptable, but how could he get someone’s attention. He noticed a sign about good service, as he moved closer he saw that there was a phone number, he took his phone from his pocket and dialed quickly, least he wouldn’t be left standing around like an idiot for god only knew how long. After a second he looked at his phone, the number wasn’t dialing, he checked and saw there was no signal. Typical. He shoved his phone back into his pocket, anger was starting to build, this was getting farcical now.

Brendan approached the tills and saw what he was looking for, the microphone. It took him only a second to figure it out, “Hello? Is there anyone in this damn shop? I’m hurt, I need some goddamned assistance.” Silence followed. He looked around, expecting someone to come running, but there was no one. Somewhere fridges started to hum. Brendan held the mike closer to his mouth, “Hello? Anybody?” Still nothing. He put the mike down before sitting in the chair behind the till. His legs were getting tired and he was feeling a little weak. No doubt from the head wound. Someone would get out to him, someone had to have been alerted that he was screwing around at the tills. Even if they were afraid he was crazy, they’d have called the cops or something. The cops. That was it. All phones were supposed to be able to ring emergency services. He would call for an ambulance. Probably the safest thing to do, it would certainly speed things up. As he reached for a his phone wave of nausea washed over him. He closed his eyes and started taking deep breaths, he was feeling dizzy too. He sat forward until his head was between his knees and kept breathing slowly. When the dizziness passed he sat up carefully. A spike of pain burst through his head. Wincing, Brendan grabbed his phone and dialed, but it was the same as last time, the phone didn’t ring, no service.

After five minutes Brendan started feeling nervous, did something happen while he had been knocked out? Did someone rob the store or take hostages or something? He shook his head, no that was crazy. It couldn’t have been anything like that. But what if it was? What if there had been a terrorist attack? That would explain why there was no one around, they could all be in the break room watching it on TV. Brendan looked out the double doors, he couldn’t see any cars in the parking lot, maybe everyone rushed home. He stood, using the counter for balance, slowly he started to walk towards the doors, using his cart for support. He walked over to the mat, then stopped as the doors didn’t open. He waited a second, then tried again, but the same thing happened. He turned from the door, someone had to be screwing with him, there was no other option. This was some weird kind of a prank, maybe for one of those annoying TV shows. He looked around, “This isn’t funny! I’m actually hurt.” Nothing.
“If it turns out that the delay in getting medical help has made it worse I’m going to sue!” Brendan shook his head, he thought for sure that would get some reaction.

“Oh my god. Someone else is here!” A woman came running from one of the aisles, her clothes wrinkled and disheveled. She ran right at Brendan, but stopped just out of reach. “How did you get here? We have to get out, show me how you got here.”
“What? I drove here.”
“No, not here, here here.”
“I don’t understand what you mean.”
Brendan started scanning the area around the woman, hoping that someone else was here, someone who wasn’t crazy.
“The doors, they don’t work, none of them do, the phones don’t either. Some of the food is poison. We’re trapped here. There no way out. Tell me, please. Just tell me. You came in here to do your shopping, then what happened?”
“I knocked a can off the shelf and when I picked it up another one fell onto my head. I was passed out for a little while.”
The woman groaned, “Fuck.”

“What do you mean trapped here? And how can some of the food be poison? It’s a super market, everything is tested. Look, I don’t know what kind of weird thing you’re trying to do here, but I don’t like it one bit.”
“You might not believe me now, but you will. Try break down the doors, it’s just glass, right? At the very least you should be able to scratch it, but nothing will happen. You’ll see. Tinned food seems to be ok. Don’t eat any of the fresh stuff. The last guy that ate any of them died a few hours later.”
“Are there any other people around that I could talk to?”
“No, it’s just me. Been just me for a while now. I’m not sure, no one else since Angela disappeared during the night. I don’t know where she went to, but I don’t think she’s coming back.”

Brendan nodded, he needed to humour her for a little bit, at least until he could find someone sane to help.

“You said you got hit in the head?”
“Yeah, but I think I’m ok.”
She nodded, “Look, I didn’t believe it at first too, but you’ll see. I wont hurt you or anything. Just so you know. Like I’m not crazy, even if I seem it.”
“Ok.”
She nodded, “It’s just, it’s nice to see someone. Someone new. Even if it does mean you’re stuck here now.”

Brendan spent the next hour trying to find someone, then the one after that trying to get out, to make any kind of dent in the glass, but nothing worked, no matter how hard he hit it, or what he threw at it, there was never any damage. He checked the doors and the phones, but nothing worked, the doors didn’t open and the phones were all dead. She was right. There was no escape.

 

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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